Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland speaking at a 2017 Parliamentary reception

Suicide can’t wait, Samaritans tells Downing St

Samaritans is calling on the next government to make suicide prevention a top priority, and to deliver on election promises.

Suicide kills three times more people than road accidents. It’s currently the biggest killer of men under 50 and of both men and women aged 20-34.

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: “Every week, Samaritans hears from thousands of people facing difficult life challenges, often coupled with dire economic circumstances. Suicide and inequality are inextricably linked. Disadvantage can aggravate difficult thoughts and feelings and make people more vulnerable to taking their own life.

“We welcome all MPs to join us in tackling inequality and delivering on the manifesto promises they were elected on that relate to suicide prevention.

“The Conservatives talked in their manifesto of being unafraid to address burning injustices, including the stigma of mental health and disability discrimination. We urge them to go further and work to reduce inequality in all its forms if they want to save lives.

“The government must counter the knock-on effect of inequality on suicide by directing extra mental health and wellbeing support to those with unstable employment, insecure housing, low incomes and areas identified as being socioeconomically deprived.

“Young people’s mental health must be a priority across the board - we believe that learning to manage your emotions is as important as learning to read and write. Parliament must legislate quickly to ensure that children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing is the number one priority in schools, working with staff and parents, and improving co-ordination between health and education services.

“Any reform of the Mental Health Act must ensure that effective support is available to anyone at risk of suicide.  And the government must take steps to implement the national suicide prevention strategy for England, with strong leadership, sufficient funds and robust plans to ensure that it does actually save lives.

“Labour has described mental ill health as ‘the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age’, so we expect them to use their influence to ensure it is now addressed. Funding more school based counselling and improving psychological therapies for all ages will have an impact. Above all, we need all parties to recognise the increased suicide risk created by inequality, and work collaboratively to create a more equal society, tackling issues of loneliness and isolation, which also threaten wellbeing.

“More than six thousand people die by suicide in the UK every year. Continuing at that rate would mean one person taking their own life every 90 minutes of this new Parliament. Let’s work together so that by 2022 the picture is very different. Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable. Despite the political challenges that may lie ahead, this is one of the biggest public health issues of our age, there’s never been more urgency to act.”

Throughout the election campaign, Samaritans appealed to voters to urge anyone standing for Parliament to sign up to its campaign to make effective suicide prevention a priority in every part of the UK. The charity will be following up with all the successful candidates who took part and holding them to that pledge.

It will also be encouraging MPs from all parties to support its Local Action Saves Lives campaign by:

  • Helping save lives locally by promoting sources of emotional support
  • Raising issues affecting the wellbeing of their constituents in Parliament
  • Working with their local authority to make sure people get support before they reach a crisis point, especially people at high risk, such as those bereaved by suicide and middle-aged men
  • Raising the issue of making more effective crisis support available: for example, after suicide and self-harm attempts.

For further information, please contact Samaritans’ press office on 020 8394 8300 or press@samaritans.org.

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Notes to editors:

  • You don’t have to be suicidal to call Samaritans. You can call us free anytime from any phone on 116 123, (this number is FREE to call and won’t show up on your phone bill, contact us by email at jo@samaritans.org  or go to www.samaritans.org for details of your nearest branch
  • Find out how to take action now to support Samaritans’ #LocalActionSavesLives campaign: http://www.samaritans.org/takeaction